Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
- King’s Day 2023 — Formerly Known As Queen’s Day
- When is King’s Day 2023?
- Where does King’s Day 2023 take place?
- What is Koningsdag? And Koningsnacht?
- Book your King’s Day Hotel on time!
- All of the Netherlands – Biggest party in Amsterdam
- Public Transport during King’s Day
- Public Toilets
- Alcohol limits on King’s Day
- King’s Day Amsterdam Map
- Music, Dance (and More) Events
- Koningsnacht — The Night Before King’s Day
- Why are all these people wearing something orange?
- King’s Day on the Canals
- How to survive King’s Day
- Not into King’s Day?
King’s Day 2023 — Formerly Known As Queen’s Day
King’s Day (not Kings day or Kingsday) is an annual national holiday in the Netherlands in honor of the Dutch King, Willem Alexander. Until his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated in 2013 it was known as Queen’s Day. 1
It is the nation’s most popular holiday, and almost everyone agrees that Amsterdam is the place to be — both on the day itself and during the night leading up to it.
When is King’s Day 2023?
King’s Day (often misspelled as Kings Day or Kingsday) takes place on Thursday, April 27, 2023. 2 This marks the tenth edition of King’s Day in honor of King Willem-Alexander.
Where does King’s Day 2023 take place?
As a national holiday King’s Day is celebrated throughout the Netherlands (colloquially still known as Holland).
However, traditionally Amsterdam is a hotspot. Visitors from the Netherlands and abroad are drawn to Amsterdam not just for the many parties and concerts. They also want to experience the sights and sounds of the city’s canals filled to the brim with boats loaded with orange-clad revellers.
What is Koningsdag? And Koningsnacht?
Koningsdag is Dutch for King’s Day.
Koningsnacht refers to the night before, when countless people get a head start on the party. In some cities the traditional Free Market (Vrijmarkt) — a flea market or swap meet — even starts early in the evening of the 26th.
Book your King’s Day Hotel on time!
Now is the time to book your hotel
King’s Day Amsterdam is not marketed outside the Netherlands, but many folks from abroad have discovered this fantastic event anyway. Many now come to Amsterdam year after year, vying with the Dutch for hotel rooms.
The longer you wait, the fewer rooms available, and the more you pay. Therefore, book your hotel now.
All of the Netherlands – Biggest party in Amsterdam
On King’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands. However, the most popular destination is Amsterdam where an average of 700.000 visitors join the 822.000+ locals in the world’s largest street party.3
In recent years Amsterdam authorities have actually taken some measures, with success, to try and stem the flow of visitors as the city simply became too full.
For instance: large-scale, DJ and artist-driven events have been moved to the outskirts of the city, where they can be reached via nearby train stations. Plus, you need tickets to get in. The events tend to sell out weeks earlier.
This means there will be fewer ‘herds’ of people thronging and pushing their way through the city on their way to various events, held at squares and other public locations already filled to capacity.
Public Transport during King’s Day
Note that there will be no public transport in the center of Amsterdam during this day. This includes taxis, Uber, ViaVan — and even private cars.
The ferries between Amsterdam Noord and the rest of the city will continue to operate throughout the day.
Buses and trams will continue to operate as well, but in the area indicated above. Most lines that normally pass through the center of town are rerouted during the day. See the map below for an overview of rerouted bus- and tramlines — as well as metro and train station that are closed for the day.
Every King’s Day lots of morons find videos of their faces (and other body parts) posted on Twitter because they were peeing in alleys, on bikes and doors, and into canals. [See: Why it is dangerous to pee into a canal]
To prevent embarrassment (not to mention a €150.00 fine) make use of a public toilet. Their locations are shown on this zoomable map (Toiletten = WC)
Alcohol limits on King’s Day
On King’s Day you are not allowed to have more than one alcoholic beverage in your possession in public spaces. Six-packs and kegs of beer are considered more than one drink and may be confiscated. This rule is in force from 6:00 am until midnight.
King’s Day Amsterdam Map
In years past the Municipality of Amsterdam published a good city map showing where King’s Day activities were taking place. That map has now been replaced by a web Dutch-language only version that isn’t nearly as useful.
If this is your first Koningsdag, simply head for the center of town. See those yellow lines and numbers on this map? Those are tram- and bus lines. You’ll note there aren’t any in the center and surrounding areas. That’s area where you’ll to be.
Taxis are not allowed to enter the center of Amsterdam either.
If you need to travel to and from your hotel on this day, you’re in for an interesting commute — on foot. (Never, ever let go of your luggage, by the way).
Allow for plenty of time to reach Central Station — or a place where you can catch a taxi, an Uber ride, or a bus to the airport.
Music, Dance (and More) Events
In the past there were many large-scale free King’s Day events In Amsterdam. However, the enormous crowds became too difficult to manage. Therefore large-scale events have been moved to the outskirts of the city, and most require you to purchase a ticket beforehand.
Most of these websites are Dutch-language only. Give Google Translate a workout:
Want to escape the crowds? Head for the former NDSM wharf: NDSM Vrijhaven (Free).
Frankly, in our opinion it is a lot more fun to experience King’s Day in the center of town than at one of these festivals. Festivals are a dime a dozen nowadays. A city-wide party the way Amsterdammers celebrate it is a once-a-year unique experience. Don’t miss it!
Koningsnacht — The Night Before King’s Day
King’s Day festivities start around midnight and last throughout the night (though official rules state that pubs must close for an hour or so before sunrise).
Tip: bring small change. Most vendors won’t be able to change large bills, and most will not accept credit cards.
Simply walk around in downtown Amsterdam (the Jordaan and Nieuwmarkt areas being among the most popular spots) and you’ll find plenty of partying going on.
That said, our advice is that you pace yourself. You’ll want to be more or less sober for the main feast.
King’s Day Daytime Celebrations
6:00 AM marks the start of the ‘free market’ – a street market where half the population sells their bric-a-brac, used clothes, and crafts for next to nothing. Where? Everywhere people live. What? Well, you’ll find anything from broken toys, last year’s King’s Day purchases, and second-hand clothes to fantastic bargains on musical instruments, electronics, software from a bygone era and everything else under the sun.
Throughout the city, professional street performers vie for attention. There are pick-up bands, aspiring opera singers, teenage rappers and street discos. Rio-style drum bands have been very popular the past few years.
In the past, huge concerts were organized at various locations in the city, such as Dam square, Rembrandtplein and Museumplein.
But because those free concerts drew too many people to Amsterdam — overwhelming the city, the trains, and the police — nowadays they are a) all located on the outskirts of the city, and b) no longer free.
Folks, it’s King’s Day — not Kings Day or Kingsday, just as we never had a Queens Day or Queensday.
In Dutch: Koningsdag
Why are all these people wearing something orange?
The throngs lining the streets and canals wear orange, the national color (after all, the King hails from the House of Orange). Take ‘throngs’ literally – particularly in the city’s center where you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with other revelers.
By way of indication: you can normally saunter from Central Station to Dam Square in about 7 minutes. On Queen’s Day the same distance can take you as much as an hour.
Again: for most of the day, there is no public transport in the center of town. Taxis and private cars will not be able to travel through the center either.
King’s Day on the Canals
If the weather is good (which isn’t always the case) the canals offer little relief as thousands of boats filled with party goers clog the city’s waterways.
In recent years the City of Amsterdam has introduced more and more rules and regulations covering use of the water during King’s Day. Huge barges (and any boat longer than 10 meter), and amplified music are banned, as is carrying more than 1 can or bottle of beer per passenger.
Most canals have one-way traffic only.
The beer flows freely, though mostly in the form of reduced-alcohol ‘event beer,’ which is served in plastic containers that come with a deposit fee.
How to survive King’s Day
Not into King’s Day?
If a city-wide street party is not what you came to Amsterdam for, know that most museums will be open on this day.
- Keukenhof 2023: seven million tulips and other flowers
- I amsterdam City Card – Worth It!
- Sold Out: Once in a Lifetime Vermeer Exhibition at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
- Van Gogh Museum — Plan Your Visit
- Amsterdam is One of the Most Multicultural Cities in the World
- Love Song to the Canals of Amsterdam
- Queen’s Day, last celebrated in 2013, always took place on April 30th — in honor of the birthday of then Queen Beatrix. The name changed to King’s Day is due to the fact that in 2013 Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son. The investiture of Willem-Alexander took place in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day, April 30, 2013. This made him the Netherlands’ first king since 1890. King’s Day (not Kingsday) is pretty much like Queen’s Day used to be. (Though you’d be surprised how many Dutch people still say Koninginnedag instead of Koningsdag). But the date has moved from April 30th to April 27th, Willem-Alexander’s birthday. ↩
- The holiday always takes place on 27 April; 26 April if the 27th is a Sunday. ↩
- Sure, some South American countries have week-long carnival celebrations, but King’s Day ain’t carnival, my friend. ↩
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